This New Orleans Community College Is Creating STEM Opportunities

We write about STEM a lot at Black Enterprise, but it’s almost always within the context of a four-year degree.

The Other Side of STEM

There is another side to STEM and high-paying careers, however, which I learned about at the US News & World Report 2015 STEM Solutions Conference in San Diego. That conference included community college graduates or certificate holders on a few of its panels. These grads were working in high-tech fields for well-established companies–and they were earning a little less than pharmacists.

How? Through career and technical education, or CTE.

CTE is a kind of vocational school on steroids. Because of today’s technological advances, it’s skilled, high-tech work that also tends to be hands-on and project-based, the style of learning that is likely to engage and motivate even disengaged learners.

Delgado Community College in New Orleans offers a way for underserved students to acquire the skills they need for jobs in the tech space. Through its dual enrollment program, Delgado is introducing area high school students to high-wage, high-demand occupations.

Technical Skills Expo

In 2013, the school introduced its Technical Skills Expo to area-underserved students as a way to showcase its offerings to students and their families. This year’s TSE will be held Oct. 10—Oct. 11.

STEM-related occupations are expected to grow by 17% in 2018, compared with 9.8% growth in non-STEM occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. “If we want the next generation of New Orleanians to prosper economically, we must provide programs that attract New Orleans students to STEM-related professions,” said Dr. Arnel Cosey, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, in a statement.

The TSE is an expo indeed, showing students how they can equip themselves to pursue viable career paths through Delgado’s Dual Enrollment program. “The expo features programs including carpentry, electrical, automotive, welding, industrial maintenance, precision machining, and instrumentation and control. During the 2013 and 2014 expos, Delgado and its industry partners provided overviews of each occupation with real-life demonstrations on state-of-the-art equipment to approximately 1,500 students.”

“The primary focus of the Technical Skills Expo is exposure,” said Dr. Larrisa Littleton-Steib, vice chancellor of Workforce Development and Technical Education, in a statement. “We want to expose our youth to career opportunities that exist and motivate them to excel post-graduation.”

CTE works. In the spring of 2016, 15 New Orleans students earned their high school diplomas while simultaneously earning a certificate of technical studies, or CTS, by successfully completing Delgado’s dual enrollment program. Since graduation, Delgado reports that many of them are working in the local technical skills workforce.

For more about Delgado Community College, visit its website.